This. This is hard.
It’s been a few weeks since my husband returned home from ten months in Afghanistan and some days it isn’t any easier than when he was gone. When I first saw him at the welcome home ceremony I cried. I cried a lot. I don’t think I ever allowed myself to feel the real weight of his absence. But once I saw him again all that stress, fear, and exhaustion let loose.
And I thought it was over.
But it’s not, not even close.
People keep asking me how he’s doing. Has he changed?
Yes. No. I don’t know. I don’t know how he feels. I don’t think we can ever really know how another person feels.
I know I’ve changed. It’s been ten months, of course I’ve changed. How could I not? I’ve had to adjust to his absence so I’ve changed how I parent. The way our household functions has changed. It had to because there was only one person to do the work of two, but also because of the natural progression of life. Kids change constantly they’ve gone through complete phases of development while he was gone. He never saw it and I couldn’t possibly explain it to him. It just is.
My closest friends have become sisters who have weathered the storms of deployment together. I still need them and I miss them now that we spend less time together. I’ve said goodbye to best friends. I’ve made new friends and walked away from friendships that were once meaningful to me.
I’ve explored Alaska on my own. I’ve played travel guide by myself. I trained for and completed a half-marathon. Along the way learning that I can do things I never thought I could.
I don’t want to let go of the things I’ve learned about myself. I have to figure out how he fits back into this new picture of me. Of our family. I have to do that without making him feel like I don’t need him.
Because I do need him. I love him. I love whatever version of him has returned home.
But it’s hard.
There’s no getting “back to normal.” There’s no normal. We’re in flux. It seems like we will be this way for a long time, perhaps another 10 months. Another cycle of life.
Only this time we’ll go through it together. I think that’s the only way to get to something that resembles normal.